New World Migration

American Indian New World Migration Theories

There have been several models of migration to the New World (Human migration into the Americas) proposed by various academic communities. The question of how, when and why humans first entered the Americas is of intense interest to archaeologists and anthropologists and has been a subject of heated debate for centuries. Current understanding of human migration into the Americas derives from advances in four integrated disciplines: archeology, physical anthropology, DNA analysis and linguistics.

Migration Map

In recent years progress has slowed as researchers enroll familiar tools to validate or reject what have become more or less entrenched theories like Clovis First. As new discoveries come to light, past hypotheses are reevaluated and new theories constructed. The peopling of the New World has been the object of a great number of archeologic, linguistic, and genetic studies over the past century. The few agreements achieved to date are their origin from Asia, with migration and widespread inhabitation of the Americas during the end of the Last glacial period around 16,000-13,000 years before present.

According to the still-debated New World migration model, a migration of humans from Eurasia to the Americas took place via Beringia, a land bridge which formerly connected the two continents across what is now the Bering Strait. Falling sea levels created the Bering land bridge that joined Siberia to Alaska, which began about 60,000 - 25,000 years ago. The minimum time depth by which this migration had taken place is confirmed at 12,000 years ago, with the upper bound (or earliest period) remaining a matter of some unresolved contention. These early Paleoamericans soon spread throughout the Americas, diversifying into many hundreds of culturally distinct nations and tribes.

The North American climate finally stabilized by 8000 BC, climatic conditions were very similar to today's. This led to wide spread migration, cultivation and subsequently a dramatic rise in population all over the Americas. This big game hunting culture labeled as the Clovis culture is primarily identified with fluted projectile points.

Animation of the Beringia Land Bridge located between north east Eurasia and north west Americas and its evolution between 21,000 BC to modern times.
Shrinking of the Bering land bridge 21,000 BC to present

The culture received its name from artifacts found near Clovis, New Mexico, the first evidence of this tool complex, excavated in 1932. The Clovis culture ranged over much of North America and even appeared in South America.

The Clovis Point

The culture is identified by distinctive Clovis point, a flaked flint spear-point with a notched flute by which it was inserted into a shaft. Dating of Clovis materials has been by association with animal bones and by the use of carbon dating methods. Recent reexaminations of Clovis materials using improved carbon dating methods produced results of 11,050 and 10,800 radiocarbon years B.P. Numerous Paleoindian cultures occupied North America, with some restricted to the Great Plains and Great Lakes of the modern United States of America and Canada as well as adjacent areas to the west and south west.

The Folsom Tradition was characterized by use of Folsom points as projectile tips and activities known from kill sites where slaughter and butchering of bison took place and Folsom tools were left behind dates to between 9000 BC and 8000 BC.

Poverty Point culture is an archaeological culture who inhabited the area of the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding Gulf coast. The culture thrived from 2200 BC- 700 BC, which is during the late Archaic period. Evidence of this culture has been found at more than 100 sites including the Jaketown Site near Belzoni, Mississippi.

The North American climate finally stabilised by 8000  before the Common Era BCE (10,000 years ago), climatic conditions were very similar to today's. This led to wide spread migration, cultivation and subsequently a dramatic rise in population all over the Americas. Over the course of thousands of years, American indigenous peoples domesticated, bred and cultivated a large array of plant species. These species now constitute 50–60% of all crops in cultivation worldwide.

The vastness and variety of Canada's climates, ecology, vegetation, fauna, and landform separations have defined ancient peoples implicitly into cultural or linguistic divisions. Canada is surrounded north, east, and west with coastline and since the last ice age Canada has consisted of distinct forest regions. Language contributes to the identity of a people by influenceing social life ways and spiritual practices. Aboriginal religions developed from anthropomorphism and animism philosophies.

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